Quarterly Review: CHRCH, Bongripper, King Chiefs, Bonnacons of Doom, Boar, June Bug, Tired Lord, Bert, Zen Bison, Wheel in the Sky

Posted in Reviews on July 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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You know the deal by now, I’m sure: 50 reviews this week between now and Friday, in batches of 10 per day. It’s an unholy amount of music, but those who really dig in always seem to find something cool within a Quarterly Review. Frankly, with this much to choose from, I’d certainly hope so. I’m not going to delay at all, except to say thanks in advance for coming along on this one. It’s got some core-heavy and some-not-really-core-heavy stuff all bundled next to each other, so yeah, your patience is appreciated. Okay. No time like the present. Let’s do it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

CHRCH, Light Will Consume Us All

chrch light will consume us all

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the songs are long. Blah blah blah it’s heavy as whatever kind of construction equipment you could want to name. What’s even more striking about Los Angeles doomers CHRCH’s Neurot Recordings debut, Light Will Consume Us All, is the sense of atmosphere. The follow-up to 2015’s massively well-received Unanswered Hymns (review here) is comprised of three songs presented in descending time order from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Infinite” (20:41) to centerpiece “Portals” (14:50) and closer “Aether” (9:29) and it finds CHRCH refining the unremitting patience of their rollout, so that even when “Aether” explodes in its second half to charred blastbeating and abrasive screams, the ambience is still dense enough to feel it in one’s lungs. CHRCH keep up this level of progression and soon enough someone’s going to call them post-something or other. As it stands, their second album builds righteously on the achievements of their debut, and is a revelation in its bleakness.

CHRCH on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings website

 

Bongripper, Terminal

bongripper terminal

Pressed up as ever in DIY fashion, Bongripper’s Terminal presents two gargantuan slabs – one per vinyl side – that only seem to highlight the strengths in the Chicago instrumentalists’ approach. The tones are huge, the grooves nodding, the impact of each kick drum forceful. Repetition is central, that feeling of aural mass and destructiveness, but neither is Terminal – comprised of “Slow” (25:11) and “Death” (18:15) – lacking a sense of atmosphere. After 21 minutes of grueling pummel, “Slow” devolves into droning layers of noise wash and quiet guitar to finish out, and “Death” seems to hold onto an echoing lead in its closing minutes that accomplishes much the same thing in broadening the atmosphere overall. I don’t know if the two songs were composed to fit together –the titles would hint yes – but they invariably do, and as “Death” unleashes a more insistent punch before turning to a post-YOB gallop, it reconfirms Bongripper’s worship-worthy place in the stoner doom milieu, how their sound can be so familiar in its threat and yet so much their own.

Bongripper on Bandcamp

Bongripper webstore

 

King Chiefs, Blue Sonnet

King Chiefs Blue Sonnet

Born as Chiefs ahead of their 2015 debut album, Tomorrow’s Over (review here), Arizona-based four-piece King Chiefs make their own first outing in the form of the easily-digestible desert rocker Blue Sonnet (on Roosevelt Row and Cursed Tongue Records), comprised of 10 tracks running just under 40 minutes of older-school laid back heavy, swinging easy on cuts like “Surely Never” and “Drifter” while still finding some Helmeted aggressive edge in the riffs of “Slug” and “Walk the Plank.” The overarching focus is on songwriting, however, and King Chiefs hone in cleverly on ‘90s-era desert rock’s post-grunge sensibility, so that their material seems ready for an alternative radio that no longer exists. Such as it is, they do just fine without, and hooks pervade the two-guitar outfit’s material in natural and memorable fashion all the way to five-and-a-half-minute closer “Shrine of the Beholder,” which embraces some broader textures without losing the structural focus that serves so well on the songs before it.

King Chiefs on Thee Facebooks

Roosevelt Row Records website

Cursed Tongue Records website

 

Bonnacons of Doom, Bonnacons of Doom

bonnacons of doom bonnacons of doom

Heavy psychedelic experimentalism pervades the Rocket Recordings-issued self-titled debut album from Liverpool collective Bonnacons of Doom, rife with tripout ritualism and exploration of sound as it is, all chasing light and getting freaky in any sense you want to read it. Five tracks, each a voyage unto itself – even the bass-fuzzy push of shortest cut “Rhizome” (5:55) is cosmos-bound – feed into the larger weirdness at play that culminates in the undulating grooves of “Plantae” (8:39), which is perhaps the most solidified cut in terms of choruses, verses, etc., but still a molten, headphone-worthy freakout that pushes the limits of psychedelia and still holds itself together. If the album was a to-do list, it would read as follows: “Eat mushrooms. Get naked. Dance around. Repeat.” Whether you do or don’t is ultimately up to you, but Bonnacons of Doom make a pretty convincing argument in favor, and I don’t generally consider myself much of a dancer. Among the most individualized psych debuts I’ve heard in a long time.

Bonnacons of Doom on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Boar, Poseidon

Boar Poseidon

Poseidon, at six songs and 39 minutes, is the second long-player from Finnish four-piece Boar. Released on vinyl with no shortage of backing — Lost Pilgrims Records, Dissonant Society, Impure Muzik, S.K.O.D., Rämekuukkeli-levyt – it hurls forth a High on Fire-informed vision of noise rock on its opening title-track only to take on a slower roll in the subsequent “Shahar’s Son” and dig into massive crashing on “12.” Using echo to add a sense of depth all the while, they scream in tradeoffs à la Akimbo and boogie in “Featherless” and seem to find a post-metallic moment on “Dark Skies” before closing with the alternately brooding and scathing “Totally out of This World,” the song sort of falling apart into the feedback and noise that ends the album. There’s a persistent sense of violence happening, but it’s as much inward as outward, and though some of Boar’s most effective moments are in that rawness, there’s something to be said for the contemplation at the outset of “Shahar’s Son” and “12” as well.

Boar on Thee Facebooks

Boar on Bandcamp

 

June Bug, A Thousand Days

June bug A Thousand Days

Seemingly unrestrained by genre, the Lille, France-based duo June BugJune on vocals and multiple instruments and Beryl on backing vocals and multiple instruments – dig into some post-punk nudge on early cut “Reasons” from their debut album, A Thousand Days (Atypeek Music) after the folkish melodies of opener “Now,” but whether it’s the fuzzy indie vibes of “Freaks” or the harmonies, electronics and acoustic guitar of “Let it Rest,” or the keyboard-handclaps, lower tones and poppish instrumental hook of centerpiece “Mama,” there’s plenty of variety throughout. What ties the differing vibes and richly nuanced approach together is the vocals, which are mostly subdued and at times hyper-stylized, but never seem to fail to keep melodicism as their central operating method. That remains true on the subdued “Does it Matter” and the beat-laden “Silenced” at the album’s finish and brings everything together with an overarching sense of joy that holds firm despite shifts in mood and approach, making the complete front-to-back listen as satisfying as it might seem all over the place.

June Bug on Thee Facebooks

Atypeek Music website

 

Tired Lord, Demo

tired lord demo

Released by the band last year, the four-song Demo by San Francisco outfit Tired Lord has been picked up for an official cassette issue through From Corners Unknown Records and will reportedly be the only release from the black metal/sludge genre-benders. Presumably that means they broke up, rather than just refuse to ever record again, though the latter possibility intrigues as well and would be meta-black metal. Spearheaded by guitarist Bryce Olson, Tired Lord effectively bring a thickness of tone to charred riffing, and a balance between screams and growls brings a cast of general extremity to the material. So I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to regret their dissolution and wish they’d do a proper release. Fair enough for the brutal chug in “Serpent’s Ascent” and the 7:51 closer “Astaroth,” which one wouldn’t mind hearing fleshed out from their current form. Failing that, one of the 30 tape copies pressed of Demo seems like decent consolation. At least while they’re there for the getting and before Tired Lord go gleefully into that black metal demo tape ether where so many seem to dwell.

From Corners Unknown Records on Thee Facebooks

From Corners Unknown Records website

 

BerT, Relics from Time Zero

bert relics from time zero

Lansing, Michigan, trio BerT – bassist Phil Clark and brothers Ryan (guitar) and Rael (drums) Andrews – broke up. They even put out a posthumous rare tracks release in 2017’s The Lost Toes (review here), so what’s left? Well, another album, of course. Intended as a sequel to the sci-fi narrative of the never-released long-player Return to the Electric Church, the five-track/35-minute Relics from Time Zero is unfinished, sans vocals where they might otherwise be, and basically a look at what might’ve been had the band not dissolved. For those prior-exposed to the once-prolific heavy rock bizarros, some of the proceedings will seem familiar: riffs are plentiful and fluid in their tempo changes from driving rock to droned-out stomp, and there seems to be about 1.5 of them in the four-minute “In the Cave of the Batqueen,” so but for the fact that it’s not done, I’d just about call it business as usual for BerT. I know they’re done and all, but I still wouldn’t mind hearing these songs with some lyrics, let alone the record this one was intended to follow-up. Either way, even defunct, BerT remain on their own wavelength.

BerT on Thee Facebooks

BerT on Bandcamp

 

Zen Bison, Krautrocker

zen bison krautrocker

Classic-style heavy rock riffing pervades opener “Blow My Mind” (5:47) and the subsequent “Backseat Lovers” (5:15) – somewhere between Stubb and Radio Moscow — on Zen Bison’s debut LP, Krautrocker, but as the five-track/42-minute self-release moves into the 11-minute title-track, guitarist/vocalist Philipp Ott, bassist Steffen Fischer and drummer Martin Konopka – joined by organist Hans Kirschner and percussionist Bobby Müller –move into deeper-grooving and more psychedelic fare. That turn suits the mostly-live-recorded outfit well on the longer instrumental piece, and that leads to a side B with the likewise-sans-vocals “La Madrugada” (9:56) and the closing cover of Don Nix’s blues rocker “Going Down” (10:24), jammed out at the end in its middle and end with quick return to the chorus between. There isn’t much on Krautrocker one might actually consider krautrock in the traditional sense, but there’s certainly plenty of rock to go around on the impressive and varied first offering from the Rostock trio.

Zen Bison on Thee Facebooks

Zen Bison on Bandcamp

 

Wheel in the Sky, Beyond the Pale

wheel in the sky beyond the pale

From opener “Rivers of Dust” onward, Wheel in the Sky’s second album, Beyond the Pale (on The Sign Records), proffers classy and classic digs, informed by a heavy ‘70s uptempo spirit on its title-track and moving into more complex volume and arrangement shifts in “Burn Babylon Burn” (video premiere here) and a poppy, goth-informed hook on “The Only Dead Girl in the City,” all the while held together through a quality of songwriting that even the band’s 2015 debut, Heading for the Night (review here), seemed to hint toward. It’s a mover, to be sure, but Wheel in the Sky execute their material with poise and a sense of clear intention, and no matter where they seem to go, their tonality and natural production assures the listener has an easy time tagging along. Might be a sleeper for some, but there are going to be people who really, really dig this album, and I’ve got no argument with them.

Wheel in the Sky on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records website

 

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King Chiefs to Release Blue Sonnet on Cursed Tongue Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

king chiefs

After making their full-length debut under their original moniker of Chiefs with Tomorrow’s Over (review here) in 2015, the redubbed King Chiefs (a promotion!) issued their second album, Blue Sonnet, in February of this year. With it, the now-four-piece reaffirmed their Southwest-born commitment to the tenets of classic desert rock as well as to their own songwriting. A collection of memorable tracks resulted and today word has come down from Cursed Tongue Records that it will press Blue Sonnet to vinyl with the usual deluxe-style treatment headed toward a release this coming October. While the cover art should certainly make for a gorgeous 12″ sleeve, it’s of course the songs themselves that will be the highlight of the LP edition, as King Chiefs plainly show their desert affiliations in 10 tracks and 39 minutes of high-grade vibe and hooks a-plenty.

The album, since it’s already released, is streaming in full at the bottom of this post, and also available on CD through Roosevelt Row Records. Info follows courtesy of the PR wire:

king chiefs blue sonnet

KING CHIEFS SIGNS TO CURSED TONGUE RECORDS FOR WORLD WIDE RELEASE OF THEIR SECOND ALBUM ‘BLUE SONNET’ IN OCTOBER 2018.

Cursed Tongue Records is thrilled to announce the signing of Phoenix, AZ based King Chiefs for a release of their sophomore full length album entitled ‘Blue Sonnet’ in October 2018.

Any journey begins with a single, small step and as such, the newly renamed King Chiefs’ journey began as a compact but powerful two-piece band in the Phoenix, Arizona area in 2012. Originally known as simply Chiefs, they play that type of blazing desert rock that can only be forged under the harsh gaze of the Sonoran sun. After releasing a couple early demos and playing numerous show around the Phoenix valley, the band expended it’s reach with a series of small regional tours that eventually led to the band relocating to California. Shortly after settling down in San Diego, the band self-released a four song demo titled Buffalo Roam, which found them embarking on numerous tours around the Southwest and West Coast.

Over time the band grew, first to a three-piece, then finally adding a permanent bass player and lead guitar player to morph into the four-piece form they are in today. These additions to the band raised the impact of the music, elevating it to the powerful live animal they are now. It was this iteration of the band that released it’s first full length album “Tomorrow’s Over” on west coast underground record label Battleground Records in February of 2015. The album garnered many favorable reviews and positive responses from fans and writers alike, further cementing King Chiefs as a band that simply must be caught live.

The band turned this momentum into a series of US tours, where they dazzled audiences across the country with their incendiary live set. People have compared their live act to such notable bands form the past as Helmet, Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Dozer and more. This was enough hype for Ripple Music to step in and ask them to be part of their Second Coming Of Heavy series, which saw them releasing a split LP with Desert Suns as Vol. V of the long running LP series.

Fast forward to February 2018 and King Chiefs release their sophomore album Blue Sonnet digitally on their bandcamp page and on CD via Roosevelt Row Records. It didn’t take Cursed Tongue Records much time to realize that this album demands our full attention and as being the most coherrent, accomplished and mature sounding release from King Chiefs to date it was really a no-brainer.

Blue Sonnet sees King Chiefs further deepening their signature sound of fuzzy riffs, catchy hooks and tightly knit interplay overlayed with Valle’s über melodic vocals. This is King Chiefs at their prime and Cursed Tongue Records is extremely happy to be able to roll out the red carpet for the Blue Sonnet this October. Expect the usual trademark setup of high quality heavy wight vinyl tasty packaging and sweet extras sure to please the distinguished vinyl collector.

Looking to the future, King Chiefs is dedicated and devoted to the almighty riff and will continue making music and who knows what the future brings…

CTR-012 KING CHIEFS – ‘BLUE SONNET’, official release date: October 19th, 2018

King Chiefs is:
Paul Valle – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Drums
Jeff Podeszwik – Vocals, Guitar
Anthony Alley – Drums
Anthony Mattos – Bass

Recorded, Mixed & Mastered by Ryan Butler at Arcane Digital Recording Studios in Chandler, Arizona.
All music written by King Chiefs (Paul Valle/Jeff Podeszwik)
Lyrics by Paul Valle (City That You Sleep, Surely Never, Drifter, Soul Sleeve, Slug, Walk The Plank, Blue Sonnet)
Lyrics by Jeff Podeszwik (Fossils, Yellow Jacket, Shrine Of Your Beholder)
Photography/Artwork by Michael Ruggiero
Layout & Design: Matt Martinez & Michael Andresakis

Track listing:

Side A
1. City That You Sleep
2. Surely Never
3. Drifter
4. Fossils
5. Soul Sleeve

Side B
6. Slug
7. Walk The Plank
8. Yellow Jacket
9. Blue Sonnet
10. Shrine Of Your Beholder

http://www.wearechiefs.com/
https://wearechiefs.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/wearechiefs
http://www.instagram.com/kingchiefsband
http://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CursedTongueRecords
https://www.instagram.com/cursedtonguerecords

King Chiefs, Blue Sonnet (2018)

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Hudu Akil Announce First-Ever Tour Dates; Debut Album in the Works

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

First tours? Most bands might start with a weekender, a long weekender, five days, a week, etc. Phoenix, Arizona’s Hudu Akil, who aggro-up a bit a self-aware take on the West Coast fuzz/desert rock model with some screams amid lyrics about getting high, partying, shout outs to 1965 and so on on their 2017 self-titled EP, which itself followed a three-songer released in 2016.

Seems that they’ve finished writing for their debut full-length and they’ll hit the studio upon returning from the tour, so perhaps it’s all for the better that they’ve blown most first-tour expectations out of the water and booked a full three weeks’ worth of shows throughout the end of this month and June and into July. At least they can be sure they’ll have the new material set to go before they actually get to putting it down on tape.

The band send the following down the PR wire:

hudu akil

In just 4 weeks, we embark on our first tour as a band, covering much of the southern United States throughout a 21-day run. We are all very excited about this tour because it is a culmination of our collective dream thus far!

We have just recently finished writing our follow-up LP which we will begin recording after our tour.

Tour Dates:
5/29 Los Angeles, CA – Five Star Bar
5/30 Slab City, CA – The Range
5/31 Carlsbad, CA – Boar Cross’n
6/1 Yuma, AZ – The Maverick
6/2 Tuscon, AZ – The Loudhouse
6/3 Scottsdale, AZ – Rogue Bar
6/6 El Paso, TX – Rockhouse Bar
6/7 San Antonio, TX – The Mix
6/8 San Marcos, TX – KIVA
6/9 Austin, TX – The Lost Well
6/14 Houston, TX – Satellite Bar
6/15 Florence, TX Camp Festival
6/16 Corpus Christi, TX – Black Monk Tavern
6/21 Lafayette, LA – Freetown
6/22 New Orleans, LA – Twist of Lime
6/24 Jacksonville, AR – Elixir
6/28 Fort Worth, TX – The Rail Club
6/29 Oklahoma City, OK – The Blue Note
6/30 Denver, CO – Bar Bar
7/5 Yuma, AZ – Littlewood Co-op
7/6 Tijuana, MX – Mous Tache

www.huduakil.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/huduakil
www.twitter.com/huduakil
www.instagram.com/huduakil
https://huduakil.bigcartel.com/

Hudu Akil, Hudu Akil (2017)

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Twingiant Premiere “Kaishakunin”; Blood Feud out on Friday

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

twingiant photo nick wilson

Twingiant issue their new album, Blood Feud, this coming Friday, Oct. 13. It is the band’s third outing since getting together in 2010 and their debut for Argonauta Records, following behind the spirited riff-and-tumble of 2014’s Devil Down, 2013’s Sin Nombre EP (review here), and their self-released 2012 debut, Mass Driver, as well as an earlier-2017 split with Into the Storm that featured the tracks “Poison Control Party Line” and “Formerly Known As…,” both of which are also represented on the record proper. Through all these releases, the consistent thread from the Phoenix, Arizona-based outfit has been one of burl-driven dudecraft, and Blood Feud follows across its eight tracks, beginning a fervent opening salvo with the crisp four-minute get-off-your-ass shove of “Throttled” and pushing into the aforementioned “Poison Control Party Line” with quick-built momentum that holds firm as backing screams join bassist Jarrod LeBlanc‘s largely unipolar but effective growls on “Ride the Gun” and the subsequent “Re-Fossilized” presents a marked change in structure.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Blood Feud‘s closing track, “Kaishakunin” as a premiere ahead of the release, and as guitarist/backing vocalist Nikos Mixas — joined in the band by LeBlanc on vocals/bass, fellow guitarist/backing vocalist Tony Gallegos and drummer Jeff Ramon — hints in the quote included after the song stream below, one might be tempted to cast Twingiant as a doom band. The truth of that is somewhat more complicated. MixasGallegos and LeBlanc definitely have heft to their tonality and that’s a likely source of much of their “file under” woes (if they’re woes), but as part of their delivery across Blood Feud — even in a song like “Re-Fossilized,” which holds back its verses compared to the three songs before it and side B leadoff “Shadow of South Mountain” after — there’s an aggressive core and an intensity of purpose that could only come from a root influence in heavy metal.

As “Shadow of South Mountain” plays out its runs of guitar and fierce growls, twingiant blood feudone can’t help but be reminded of The Mighty Nimbus or or a less distinctly Southern take on Beaten Back to Pure or Alabama Thunderpussy at their meanest. Twingiant have heavy rock elements working in their favor as regards tone, but just as their Floridian labelmates in Hollow Leg put their emphasis on the ‘metal’ in ‘sludge metal,’ so too do Twingiant bring that pissed-off mood to the chug and swing of “Formerly Known As,” which, like “Re-Fossilized,” finds them in a more instrumental modus, even going so far as to indulge a bit of swirl in the guitar solo past the halfway point before giving ground to the 6:25 longest and penultimate cut, “Last Man Standing,” which starts airy and quiet before moving into clean-sung early verse lines and hitting its full impact around two and a half minutes in before receding again. That back and forth plays out once more and stays louder the second time, coming to an apex that feeds directly into “Kaishakunin,” which unfolds atop feedback with faded in drums, vague whispers, rumbling low end and an overarching sense of violence to come.

Fitting enough. The title of the song is derived from the individual who, in the ritual suicide of seppuku, stands behind the person who has just gutted themselves and acts quickly to behead them — also presumably what’s being given devilish representation on the cover art. So be it. The song “Kaishakunin” unfolds with the most crawling pace of anything on Blood Feud, which gives its growls an especially massive feel, but picks up somewhat after its halfway mark and makes its way into an instrumental finish topped first by a drifting lead and then by another, more earthbound solo to make the trail through the crescendo. It’s not overdone by any stretch — indeed, given some of the bull-in-china-shop drive preceding, it might be understated — but it gets the job done, and the feeling that things aren’t quite done after the 41-minute record has concluded I take as a sign of the band leaving their audience wanting more. Hard to argue.

After seven years and three long-players spent honing their craft, Twingiant cast a genuine sense of arrival and give a duly sure-headed performance throughout Blood Feud; both mature in the sense of knowing who they are as a band and still vital in their execution.

Speaking of executions, you can hear the premiere of “Kaishakunin” on the player below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Twingiant, “Kaishakunin” track premiere

Nikos Mixas on “Kaishakunin”:

“We’re so excited to be on the verge of releasing our 3rd full-length album via Argonauta Records. We’ve put a lot of work and thought into the material, the production in addition to the artwork concept and we couldn’t be happier with the results! Sometimes Twingiant gets labeled as being a doom band, and we’ve never gone out of our way to create a doom song until now with ‘Kaishakunin.'”

Critically acclaimed loud and heavy metal band TWINGIANT are pleased to announce that they will release their new album Blood Feud via Argonauta Records on October 13th 2017.

Pre-order Blood Feud digitally here: https://twingiant.bandcamp.com/album/blood-feud

Twingiant is:
Jarrod LeBlanc – Bass/Vocals
Nikos Mixas – Lead/Rhythm Guitar/Backup Vocals
Tony Gallegos – Lead/Rhythm Guitar/Backup Vocals
Jeff Ramon – Drums

Twingiant on Thee Facebooks

Twingiant on Twitter

Twingiant on Instagram

Twingiant website

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

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Stinkeye, Llantera: Down the Gutter and into Space

Posted in Reviews on August 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

stinkeye llantera

If Stinkeye have anything in common with the current West Coast heavy psych boom, it’s the possibility that at any moment — any moment at all — it just might be time to boogie. But at the same time, true to their geography, the Phoenix, Arizona, trio are a little more inland in their sound, a little more suburban-skatepark-disaffection and garage-rehearsals than they might be were they otherwise basking in the coastal sunshine of San Diego. Issued by Milwaukee Junction Records and Blade RecordsLlantera is the debut full-length from the young three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Andrew Hosley, bassist Harris Smull and drummer Anthony DeMuro, and though it takes some tonal and tempo cues from the unabashed I-got-this-legally new-school stonerism of Fuzz across its span, whether it’s the Dead Meadow march of post-intro opener “Orange Man,” the Sungrazer-style vocal harmonies of the subsequent “Pink Clam,” the weirdo-born bounce of “No Spoon” or the grunged-out, semi-punk fuckall thrust of closer “Feed,” Stinkeye careen from one influence to another with fluidity more deceptive than the forwardness of their hairy tones and cymbal washes might at first convey.

Including the digital bonus/maybe-hidden track “Fink Ployd,” Llantera checks in at a thoroughly manageable 37 minutes — ready and seemingly waiting for whoever might want to pick it up for a vinyl release to do so — and is the follow-up to the band’s first outing, last year’s Llantera Demos (review here), a four-track demonstration released in October that also featured “Orange Man,” “Pink Clam,” “Llantera” and “Fink Ployd.” If that seems like a quick turnaround between a first demo and a first long-player, it is, and Llantera has its rough edges to be sure, but that ultimately becomes a part of the album’s appeal, as shown in the harsher bite of “Feed” or the manner in which “Bringer of Grief” shifts from its instrumentally jamming first half to the languidly bouncing verses of its second. Youth is very much on Stinkeye‘s side. The energy of their delivery and the sense of exploration at root in the construction of their material both benefit from the freshness of the experience on the part of the band. They’re new to their potential listenership? Well, they’re new to themselves too.

Accordingly, in addition to actually being partially comprised of the same tracks, Llantera carries forward the overarching rawness of the Llantera Demos. Produced and engineered by Dylan Thomas, “Pink Clam,” “No Spoon” and the rest of the cuts bask in a natural vibe and a variable mix that sees Hosley‘s vocals brought to the fore in volume on “Orange Man” and “Pink Clam” and the latter portion of “Bringer of Grief,” highlighting a burgeoning melodic approach that one can only hope the guitarist and the band as a whole will develop as they move forward, and pushed back into echoing trippery to allow the added percussion in “No Spoon” to flourish amid the fuzzy and desert-hued guitar leads while Smull‘s bass — with a ’90s-style funk at its core — provides the grounding force necessary to tie it all together before DeMuro‘s drums lead the way into the slowdown at the end that explodes and the tongue-in-cheek keyboard wash rounds out as the transition into “Feed.”

The smoothness of that transition, as well as that earlier between the 28-second intro “The Calm” — which functions in direct defiance of its title with an immediately abrasive push of guitar noise — and the ultra-welcoming initial roll of “Orange Man,” isn’t to be understated, but this too feels like an element in progress on the part of Stinkeye, something they’ll build on from here for their next release. Still, as righteously paced as their material is throughout Llantera, and as much as they shift from one vibe to the next — the title-track becoming a party of gang shouts and the record’s most shuffling rhythm, much thickened by Smull‘s low end and clearly having a great time getting alternative-universe surf-rock in Hosley‘s guitar over DeMuro‘s steady, handclap-worthy snare before “Bringer of Grief” more fully introduces the edgier single-word shouts foreshadowed in “Pink Clam” that will jab throughout “No Spoon” to follow — the front-to-back impression is hardly lacking flow either way. Repeat listens to the entirety, which are well earned, only make this linearity more resonant.

Add to that little hints of bizarro nuance like a possible lyrical mention of Barbara Bush in “Pink Clam” and the structural departure in “Bringer of Grief,” and Llantera becomes a decisively engaging piece of crafted fuzzy, heavy rock, infused with the sneer of garage and some noisier impulses for good measure. That, as the debut full-length from a relatively new band, it says as much as it does about their potential makes it all the more welcome, but there’s value in the breadth Stinkeye present in the here and now as well, and as much as one looks forward to hearing how they might bridge the sonic/stylistic gaps between “Llantera” and “Feed” as their methods evolve over time, the fact that they can put both of those songs together in relatively close proximity on a short-ish album isn’t to be ignored. And while one suspects that pieces like “Feed” and”Bringer of Grief” and “No Spoon” were already in the works, the quick turnaround between the demo and the long-player bodes well for future productivity too.

Llantera might be a sleeper in terms of the response it gets, but it puts Stinkeye in league with next-generation upstarts like FoggBison Machine, Salem’s BendCloud Catcher and perhaps even Slow Season (among others) in fostering a new breed of American heavy that learns from the past even as it places itself at the cutting edge of what’s to come. Of course, what Stinkeye become as they pass through the next few years is up to them — they could call it quits tomorrow and completely pull the plug on the potential shown here; it’s certainly happened before — but Llantera fills one with hope for what they might be able to contribute to this pastiche and kicks more than enough ass besides to be counted as one of the best debuts of 2017. May they continue to work quickly, may they continue to boogie at will, and may they continue to get weirder as they go.

Stinkeye, “No Spoon” official video

Stinkeye on Thee Facebooks

Stinkeye on Bandcamp

Llantera at iTunes

Stinkeye on Soundcloud

Stinkeye website

Stinkeye on Instagram

Blade Records webstore

Milwaukee Junction Records website

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Stinkeye Post “No Spoon” Video; Debut Album out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

stinkeye

Phoenix, Arizona, bringers-of-fuzzy-shenanigans Stinkeye released their debut full-length, Llantera, last month, just prior to hitting the road on a tour along the Pacific Coast to support it. They’ve been selling CDs at shows, tapes can be preordered ahead of an Aug. 5 issue through Blade Records and one can purchase the album via iTunes — it’s not currently on their Bandcamp — but if it’s mainly at shows for now or the three-piece is working out something else for a vinyl release, then fair enough. I dug the hell out of their 2016 four-tracker, Llantera Demos (review here), and Llantera proper is a more than worthy follow-up — not just because it happens to work in all four of those songs, either.

I think you can both hear and see my reasoning in the video below for “No Spoon,” directed by Andrew Hosley. A young band comprised of Hosley on guitar/vocals, Harris Smull on bass and Anthony DeMuro on drums, Stinkeye effectively bring together elements of grunge, fuzz rock and heavy psych, and with a laid back garage-style roll, their vibe is languid and tripped out. The clip follows suit with a weirdo edge that feels like it was born in the ’90s much as the band themselves probably were. Maybe. In either case, whatever’s up with Llantera, officially it’s been put out once and I wouldn’t be surprised if it got nabbed somewhere along the line for vinyl issue by this or that label, since the trio groove so fluidly across its span and even in the sphere of West Coast heavy psych, what they’re doing stands out as being less ’70s derived and more about depth than the shuffle. It’s an easy one to dig.

And of course, I hope you do precisely that as regards the “No Spoon” clip, which you’ll find immediately following here:

Stinkeye, “No Spoon” official video

“time slips away, down the gutter, and into space”

Artist: Stinkeye
Song: No Spoon
Album: LLANTERA
Label: Milwaukee Junction Records

Song Produced and Engineered by Dylan Thomas.

Video produced and edited by Andrew Hosley / Filmed by Bailey Price and Morgan Richmeier.

Stinkeye on Thee Facebooks

Stinkeye on Bandcamp

Llantera at iTunes

Stinkeye on Soundcloud

Stinkeye website

Stinkeye on Instagram

Blade Records webstore

Milwaukee Junction Records website

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: High Brian, Arduini/Balich, Audion, Grey Gallows, Smoke Mountain

Posted in Radio on June 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

If you’re a regular denizen of The Obelisk Radio, you’ve probably already guessed by the massively expanded playlist that we’re back on the main server at this point. It’s been months on the backup, and while anyone is still reading, let me just say out loud how much I owe to the hard work Slevin has put into the back end of making this thing happen. From a huge file-recovery operation to yesterday turning the thing back on after I moved a bunch of files and screwed it up yet again, the dude is just unbelievable. Seriously. This site is coming up on nine years old, and Slevin has made it happen every step of the way from a technical standpoint. I am in awe of his prowess and generosity of spirit.

So now that we’re back up and running at full capacity, the only thing to do is to keep building it going forward. And here we are.

The Obelisk Radio adds for June 13, 2017:

High Brian, Hi Brain

high-brian-hi-brain

Though they start out with the post-Queens of the Stone Age shuffle of “Liquid Sweet,” the crux of Austrian rockers High Brian‘s playfully titled debut long-player, Hi Brain, lies in classic psychedelia, unafraid to directly make a Beatles reference or two in “Aquanautic Smoke” or name a track after Jefferson Airplane‘s Surrealistic Pillow. That song, “Surrealistic Pillow,” turns out to be one of Hi Brain‘s catchiest, but hooks about throughout the nodding “All but Certainty” and the later, Stubb-style raucousness of the pair “The Conversion” and “Blood Money” as well, while centerpiece “All the Other Faces” and the aforementioned “Aquanautic Smoke” engage effects-laden drift and poised fluidity, resulting in an overarching sense of within-genre aesthetic variety that moves easily throughout the vinyl-ready 44-minute offering. They close with the molten roll of “Time,” their longest cut at 5:52 and a bolder melodic take, as if to signal a potential direction of their growth on their way out. There are plenty of encouraging signs before they get there, certainly, but hey, one more never hurt. An impressive introduction to a project that one hopes continues to develop and expand its approach.

High Brian website

Stone Free Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory

 

Arduini/Balich, Dawn of Ages

ARDUINI BALICH DAWN OF AGES

Words like “powerhouse” are invented for releases like Arduini/Balich‘s Dawn of Ages. The Cruz del Sur release brings together Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini (who also produced) and Argus vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich, and while I’ll confess that on first listen I went right to their cover of Sabbath‘s “After All (The Dead)” — fucking righteous; and there aren’t a lot of people I’d trust to take on that song or anything from the Dio era — extended pieces like “Beyond the Barricade” (17:27) and “The Wraith” (13:44) offer listeners a deep push into a heavy metal that’s progressive, powerful and doomed all at the same time, executed with a clarity and a purpose that shimmers with class and just the right balance of patience and aggression. Rest easy, traveler, for you are in the hands of masters. Rounded out by drummer Chris Judge, Arduini/Balich is what happens when heavy metal goes right, and from the doomly unfolding of opener “The Fallen” through the 2LP’s three concluding covers of Beau Brummels‘ “Wolf of Velvet Fortune,” Uriah Heep‘s “Sunrise” and the already noted Dehumanizer highlight, there isn’t one moment where they relinquish their hold on either their craft or their audience’s attention. It’s the kind of outing that might cause a last-minute revision to best-of-the-year-so-far list, to say the least of it. Not to be greedy, but I’ll take a follow-up as soon as possible. Thanks.

Arduini/Balich on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music website

 

Audión, La Historia de Abraham

audion-la-historia-de-abraham

If the driving Motörhead-onic thrust of the title-track to Audión‘s La Historia de Abraham rings familiar, it might be because the rhythm section of the Buenos Aires trio consists of bassist Gonzalo Villagra (also vocals) and drummer Walter Broide (also backing vocals), both formerly of Los Natas. Honestly, that pedigree would probably be enough for me to get on board with the 10-track/49-minute self-released full-length, but then you get into the roll and drift of the subsequent “Llegaron Sordos” and the fluid cascade of “Colmillo Blanco,” and guitarist Dizzy Espeche makes his presence felt tonally and vocally throughout to add a new personality to whatever familiar aspects might persist. “Lesbotrans” dives into a ’70s-style swing and the blown-out “Diablo vs. Dios” follows it with the age-old question of what might happen if The Who went garage punk, but there’s flourish of psychedelia on the interlude “Para Rosita” before “El Carancho” and “Queruzalem” round out with some of La Historia de Abraham‘s weightiest impacts. I think it’s fair to say Audión have some tinge of Los Natas‘ style to them, but their first outing shows them working toward building something new from that as well, and that makes their arrival all the more welcome.

Audion on Thee Facebooks

Audion on Bandcamp

 

Grey Gallows, Underlord

grey-gallows-underlord

Not that it isn’t plenty malevolent on its surface, but there’s an even more extreme threat lurking beneath “Underlord,” the nine-minute opener, titular and longest track (immediate points) on the debut full-length from Phoenix, Arizona’s Grey Gallows. It doesn’t take long for that sense of extremity to manifest in a blackened sensibility that pervades both in the riffs of a song like “Belladonna” — the middle cut of the five included — or the overarching spaciousness that finds its way into the grime-coated “West of Hell,” which follows. With a depth of guitar worthy of filling one’s lungs, “West of Hell” churns in a manner faster and somewhat sludgier than the alternately nodding and atmospheric “Priestess” showed the Opoponax Records outing to be earlier, six-stringers Joe Distic and Cat weaving noted lines and crunch riffs around each other for seven densely grooved minutes amid low-end push from bassist Lee, adaptable and creative drumming from Shane and Zue Byrd‘s vocals, which hit in form no less distorted in the back half of “Priestess” than they are punker drawled in closer “Buzzard Dust.” Nasty. Nasty, nasty, nasty. That’s basically what the math works out to on the 35-minute outing, but it’s worth noting that even on their first album, Grey Gallows demonstrate a ready willingness to balance various stylistic impulses off each other in such a way that’s only going to make their sound richer as they proceed. Richer, and even nastier. So be it.

Grey Gallows on Thee Facebooks

Opoponax Records webstore

 

Smoke Mountain, Smoke Mountain

smoke-mountain-smoke-mountain

The first EP from this Floridian three-piece does precisely what it’s supposed to do: introduces a newcomer band with three unpretentious tracks of dirt-fuzz riffing. The immediate vibe of opener “Demon” is early Acid King as the vocals follow the riff in classic stonery fashion, but the three songs get longer as they go and “Violent Night” proves immediately more spacious en route to the eponymous march of “Smoke Mountain.” What would probably be called a demo in a prior age, Smoke Mountain‘s Smoke Mountain makes its primary impression tonally but shows potential in its songwriting as well, and as a quick sampling of what the band are getting up to in their first stages, there’s little more one could reasonably ask of it, particularly as “Smoke Mountain” hammers home its chorus in a balance of clean vocal melody and absolutely filthy guitar, bass and drum crash. That duality, should they maintain it as they move forward into whatever might come next, can only serve them well. One to keep an eye on.

Smoke Mountain on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Mountain on Bandcamp

 

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Stinkeye Release Llantera June 15; West Coast Tour Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Phoenix, Arizona, three-piece Stinkeye have finished work on their debut album, Llantera and are wasting no time in getting it out to the public. After catching the ear with the four-track Llantera Demos (review here) last year, the band will issue the completed seven-song record on June 15. All four songs from the demo — “Orange Man,” “Pink Clam,” “Llantera” and “Fink Ployd” — will appear on the full-length, and upon the release, Stinkeye will turn around and quickly hit the road the next night to begin supporting it on the West Coast, heading up to Oregon and back south again.

A few shows on that stint are still coming together, so if you’re in a position to help out the band with a gig or put them up for the night or give them food or whatever it is you can do, I doubt they’d argue with you. It’s the right thing to do, in any case.

I’ll hope to have more on this to come, but here are the album announcement and tour dates to start with, as sent over by the band:

stinkeye

60’s psychedelic Hash Rock trio from the scorching pavements of Phoenix, Arizona, STINKEYE release their debut album “LLANTERA” June 15th. The drums for the album were recorded at Deep Roots Studios in Tempe, AZ, but most of the record was done at Savage Tactic Studios.

Tracklisting:
1. The Calm
2. Orange Man
3. Pink Clam
4. Llantera
5. Bringer of Grief
6. No Spoon
7. Feed

The album release will followed immediately by a two-week tour through the West Coast starting June 16th. Several dates still TBA.

Stinkeye on tour:
Friday June 16 Bancroft San Diego CA*
Saturday June 17 Gnar Burger Los Angeles CA*
Sunday June 18 Black Light Long Beach CA
Monday June 19 TBA Los Angeles CA
Tuesday June 20 TBA CA
Wednesday June 21 TBA San Francisco CA
Thursday June 22 Johnny B’s Medford OR
Friday June 23 House Show Redmond OR
Saturday June 24 TBA Portland OR
Sunday June 25 TBA Eugene OR
Monday June 26 TBA Medford OR
Tuesday June 27 Winters Tavern San Francisco CA
Wednesday June 28 TBA Los Angeles CA
Thursday June 29 TBA San Diego CA
* with Colour TV

https://www.facebook.com/stinkeyeblows/
https://stinkeye666.bandcamp.com/releases

Stinkeye, Llantera Demos (2016)

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